Originally Posted by listopencil
We desperately need a viable third party that will create a platform that is acceptable to Democrat and Republican voters. I think the Libertarians can be that third party but, so far, they lack that charismatic candidate and appear to be unwilling to dilute their message enough to be palatable to the average voter.
I used to think so to. However, the system is too rigged against third party success, especially these days. Until we have more competive elections, and reform the single-member plurality system of elections by requiring majority votes and run-off elections--third parties are doomed.
Over the last 30-40 years, democrats and republicans have become further entrenched in their strongholds in blue and red states, respectively--as well as redrawing district lines in states to ensure control of state legislatures. The practical effect has been to increase the number of "safe" districts and states, while simultaneously reducting the number of truly competitive districts and states. The result has been the much, much more partisan and extemist rhetoric that we have seen over the past 20 years. The result is even if a third party rises to challenge one
of the two parties, they have NO chance
against the entrenched party in more than 40-45 states.
Take the 2012 election. Forty states were not even "in play" during the election--as victories by the controlling party in that state were all but assured before a single vote was cast. The only question was the degree
to which the opposing party might be able to take seats or build a more formidable minority to challenge the majority party on the issues. The only question in about 40 of the states is how red or blue, in a given election, the state will be. "Purple" states in which we have a truly "competitive" partisan discourse and debate, now number ten or less.
As impressive as Nate Silver's performance has been in the last two Presidential elections, modern partisan politics has really become a case of focusing your analysis on the "purple" states--you know the so-called "swing" states that the media obssessed on. The reason the other 40 states don't matter anymore--is because the outcome is pretty much already pre-determined before the actual votes are cast.
Third parties would not change this a bit. What could change it some, is more moderate candidates from both sides of the aisle. Democrats and Republicans have become puppets for ideological extremist factions of their respective party. In the 70s and 80s, the Dems were controlled by their whack job lunatic fringe; the DLC and Clinton brought them back toward the center in the 90s, and during W's presidency. During W and Obama's administrations, it's the Reps who have been hijacked by an ideological extremist faction--the tea party.
Until the Reps do what the Dems did in the 90s (tame their lunatic fringe, and move to the center,) they will continue to scratch their heads and lose elections that could have won--like 2012. Right now, Chris Christie may be the only one in the party who seems to have figured this out. Hopefully Christie, and similarly situated republicans (possibly Jindal, Julian Castro, Rubio, etc) will seize the party back from windbag/douchebag-types likes Rand Paul, Michelle Bachman, Scott Walker, Rick Scott, and their minions, and tame their lunatic fringe in the process.
That's the best hope for moderation, compromise, and consensus toward not
a bigger and more expensive government, but rather a more effective government that is actually capable of responding to the pressing issues of the day--rather than fiddle as DC and the country burns. Ironically, it is only this scenario...edging ever closer to truly running the country off of a cliff, that could make a third party really relevant as our only hope. We just aren't quite there yet, IMHO. And frankly, for the good of the country--let's hope we can avert that.